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ATC pressure allegedly causes A320 takeoff with hot brakes at Porto Airport
20 June 2015

Porto (LPPR) aerodrome chart [Not for Navigation]

Porto (LPPR) aerodrome chart [Not for Navigation]

Pressure by ATC at Porto Airport, Portugal to expedite the departure allegedly caused the crew of an A320 to take off with hot brakes.

On the evening of June 7, 2015, a SATA International Airbus A320 was operating flight RZO175 from Porto, Portugal to Ponta Delgada, Azores, Portugal. On board were 152 passengers and 7 crew members. Weather was fine with 10+ km visibility, a temperature of 23°C and calm winds.
The active runway was runway 17. Yet, before startup, the flight crew asked if they could be cleared for a runway 35 departure. ATC replied “…I’ll advise at push back depending on traffic but I don’t think so…”. Runway 35 was closer to the apron and did not involve any back tracking.

After RZO175 was allowed to push-back and start up, the crew received taxi instructions to the Holding Point of runway 17, via Foxtrot, and back-track also on runway 17 for a full length takeoff. While taxiing, RZO175 was asked by ATC to expedite, to which the crew replied “We’ll expedite taxi, Air Azores 175… “. After completing the back track and 180 degree turn, RZO175 was cleared for takeoff: “Air Azores 175, wind 1-9-0 degrees, 5 knots, runway 1-7, cleared for take off… “. After take-off the RZO175 was allowed to climb to FL240 and subsequently instructed to communicate with Lisbon Control.

The captain of the flight later reported that the brake temperature rose to 250°C during taxi. After being pressed by ATC to expedite their departure, the brake temperature reached the 300°C during takeoff. At that time the ECAM message “BRAKES HOT” showed.
The captain decided to continue takeoff. The landing gear was kept down until the temperature of the brakes had reached 180-200°C.
The fact that the captain alleged that pressure placed on him by ATC did not allow for “the calculation of adequate performance to take off” caused the Portuguese GPIAA to open an investigation.

The investigation is on going.

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